How to Become an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
A career in HVAC is a promising one for people interested in skilled trades. Technicians in this industry install, maintain, inspect and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigerant systems. The number of jobs available is growing, and there is good demand everywhere, including in Arkansas, for qualified HVAC and refrigeration technicians. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
If you’re interested in becoming an HVAC technician, here are the steps you need to take:
- Get a high school diploma or equivalent
- Enroll in an accredited HVAC training program
- Pass the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification Exam
- Find an entry-level job in the HVAC industry
- Consider becoming a certified HVAC technician
HVAC techs in Arkansas must be licensed through the state. Those who work with refrigerants and heating systems also need to be certified through the federal government. Arkansas does not require any specific path to becoming licensed, but you do need to have either work experience or an appropriate education in HVAC, or both. The two common ways of getting that experience and working toward licensure and a career in HVAC are to complete a post-secondary educational program or to seek an apprenticeship for on-the-job training.
HVAC courses topics may include:
- Gas heating systems
- Refrigeration systems
- Electric circuits
- Construction technology
- Air distribution
HVAC techs need to have a strong understanding of how HVAC and refrigeration equipment work in order to troubleshoot and repair them when they break down. Many programs will also require students to complete an internship as part of their curriculum, giving them the chance to get real-world experience before they enter the workforce.
While there are many schools that offer HVAC training programs, not all of them are fully accredited. That’s why it’s important to do your research before enrolling in any program to make sure that it will give you the education and skills you need to be successful in this field.
HVAC Schools in Arkansas
There are many technical colleges and trade schools in Arkansas that offer certification and associate degree programs in HVAC. These can be completed in as little as two semesters, although some students may choose to take longer if they want to earn a degree. Many of these programs include an internship or externship component so that students can get real-world experience in the field.
If you choose to earn a degree or diploma first, you may want to choose programs that are accredited by either the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) or HVAC Excellence.
The following HVACR certified technician programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET):
- Arkansas State University, Beebe. The air conditioning technology program at the Beebe campus of ASU offers a proficiency certificate, a technical certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in General Technology. All of these take two years or less to complete. These programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence.
- Arkansas Tech University, Ozark. In Ozark, students can choose to complete either a certificate program or a two-year associate’s degree program in air conditioning and refrigeration, both of which are accredited by HVAC Excellence. Students are prepared to begin working in HVAC positions and to seek licensure.
- National Park College, Hot Springs. National Park offers students a different type of program. It is a three-year apprenticeship. Students are matched with a local company and learn on the job. They also take 160 hours of coursework.
- Penn Foster. For students who cannot access the campuses in the state with HVAC programs, Penn Foster offers an online certificate program. It can be completed on your timeline and is more affordable than on-campus programs.
HVAC Certification and Licensing for Becoming a Technician in Arkansas
The Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Licensing Board license HVAC and refrigeration technicians in the state. There are several licensure levels available:
- Class A—All HVAC and refrigeration work with no limitations
- Class B—HVAC and refrigeration work on systems that develop no more than 15 tons of cooling per unit or one million BTUH heating per unit
- Class C—Allows work on systems as described in Class B, but no installation of new systems or replacement of old systems
- Class D—Sheet metal work on ducts and HVAC systems
- Class E—Refrigeration work, but no installation of HVAC systems
To qualify for HVAC and refrigeration licenses in Arkansas, individuals must be at least 18 years old, pass an examination and show proof of two years of work experience. Educational experience through approved programs can count for work experience.
Additionally, any HVAC techs working with refrigerants must be certified through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), per the Clean Air Act. To get EPA Section 608 certification you must pass a related examination.
Employment Opportunities and Salary Expectations
All over the country, careers are booming for qualified HVAC workers. You can expect great job stability in this field as it continues to grow at a rate of 15 percent, faster than average job growth. In Arkansas, demand is even greater for HVAC techs. Technicians in the state earn a good living too. The average salary in May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $38,440 per year and $18.48 per hour.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Arkansas
There are many job opportunities for qualified HVAC technicians in Arkansas, but more jobs are available in and around Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Springdale. Contracting companies are the main employers of HVAC techs, although some people work for themselves or are hired by government agencies, schools and industrial companies.
Most HVAC technicians in Arkansas work full time, but some may be required to work evenings or weekends, especially those who are on call. Many employers offer health insurance and retirement plans as well as paid vacation days and holidays. Some HVAC techs belong to unions, such as the International Union of Operating Engineers.
If you are looking into an HVAC career in Arkansas, it’s a good choice. With just two years of learning and training you’ll be ready to get hired for one of the many available positions in the state.
How do I Become an HVAC Technician in Arkansas?
- 1. Meet the minimum age requirement of 18
- 2. Gain at least two years’ experience through an approved program or on-the-job training
- 3. Pass your Arkansas licensing exam
- 3. Apply for one of the state’s five classes of HVAC licenses
Does HVAC require a lot of math?
HVAC definitely requires a lot of math! You need to be able to calculate air flow, heat load, and plenty of other factors. Some people find HVAC math difficult, but Practice makes perfect! There are plenty of online resources and books that can help you hone your skills. With a little bit of effort, you can definitely master the necessary HVAC math.